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Roasted Eggplant Wedges with Herbed Pistachio Millet

I’m writing from a hotel in Orlando, where we’ve been waiting out hurricane Irma. Man did we dodge the bullet with this one. Our home is on a tiny island off the West Coast of Florida, and originally the storm’s projected path fell right over the island as a very powerful category 4. So powerful that we were getting ready to say goodbye to our house. Due to some extremely fortunate weather circumstances, our home only got hit with a category 1 storm and the island did not flood. There’s no power or cell reception, the streets are a mess, the bridge to the island has a large boat jammed against it, and everything is closed, but we still have a house! Hope everyone is staying as safe as possible this hurricane season.

This is an extra cozy, late summer meal that I made last week when we were trying to figure out exactly what to do as the hurricane was approaching. It’s great for weekdays and tastes amazing, even in times of total uncertainty :)

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Ayurvedic Garbanzo Bean Party Dip

The chickpea (Cicer arietinum) is a legume. The seeds of this ancient plant — the chickpea — are high in protein. It is one of the earliest cultivated legumes — 7,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East.

Other common names for the species include garbanzo bean, ceci bean, sanagalu, chana, hummus and Bengal gram.

This slightly-tart, slightly-sweet dip is perfect for a party. It can also be used as a stuffing for quesadillas or as a pesto-type sauce.

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In love with lentils!

Lentils are the underdogs of the pulse, bean and legume food group, the unsung heroes, worthy of more attention and respect. If you’re not integrating lentils into your food world, I have some tips for you.  A few easy tweaks in their preparation makes their texture terrific instead of blah (a game changer!) and their flavor zooms up on the dial with a few well-chosen ingredients. 


Lentils have been part of the human diet since Neolithic times. Archeological evidence shows they were eaten 9,500 to 13,000 years ago, and that they were one of the first crops domesticated in the Near East.  


Healthwise, they are a good source of protein, folic acid, dietary fiber, and many trace minerals. In researching The Healthy Mind Cookbook, I learned they are exceptionally good brain food full of brain-friendly B vitamins with folate that helps keep our minds healthy and sharp as we age. Lentils support cognitive functioning (iron), focus (folate) and memory (zinc). Yay, lentils!


One of my favorite workshop food demos is a lentil salad recipe. It’s usually easy to find someone who isn’t wild about lentils, because they think they are bor-ing, or worse, mushy :( Ugh. I delight in DAZZLING them with lentils cooked the right way and tossed with bright ingredients, to make for a magically nourishing and utterly delicious mouthful! (Picture the spoon going into their somewhat reluctantly open mouth...the pause… then the involuntary spasm of vocal delight… yummmm!) I invariably gain countless converts to the humble lentil.

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End of Summer Raw Heirloom Pasta Sauce

This sauce is the epitome of late summer. Before we head into fall—the season of apples and pumpkins—grab onto those last few tastes of summer with this fresh and vibrant sauce. It’s best made with summer heirloom tomatoes (the more colorful the better!); however, you can also use “regular” tomatoes.

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Red Cabbage and Sweet Potato Smoothie

Smoothies are my absolute favorite breakfast. I always get sad once the mornings start getting cooler, because an ice-cold smoothie bowl no longer seems like a very appropriate breakfast option. I continue making them into October anyway :)


For years, I’ve had the same smoothie formula that consisted of frozen banana, frozen berries, as well as any greens and super-powders I had on hand. This past year though, I decided to start packing more stuff into my smoothies, specifically more veggies. If you have a blender, especially a high-speed one like a Vitamix, it’s so easy to ‘hide’ all kinds of things in your smoothies. I’ve been favoring steamed and frozen cauliflower, sweet potato, and zucchini in place of frozen banana. I’ve also been adding things like raw beets, red cabbage, and even mung bean sprouts into the blender. At first, eating a barely sweet smoothie was strange, but now I can honestly say that I’ve grown to appreciate and love having a less sugary breakfast. I realized that it’s more important to me to have a smoothie, any smoothie than to have a sweet, dessert-like one in the morning.


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Savoring that last breath of summer

I remember Labor Day weekend as the last swim before the community pool closed. Getting ready for school, buying school supplies. New school shoes and clothes. The Labor Day barbeque. The last breath of summer, before you had to get back down to business. 

Even now as an adult, I can feel things are calmer and quieter in August, during the dead of summer, when people are taking a vacation or staycation. Labor Day is high tide, then it’s back to full throttle, nose to the grindstone, and It doesn’t matter if it’s still 102 degrees. We’re back on!

Culinary-wise, it’s the last of the picnic trio (Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day). Our traditions aren’t as elaborate on Labor Day as for the others, but it’s fun to savor and celebrate the swan song of the season, especially a season with such a glorious harvest of fruits and vegetables.

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Peach and Beet Watercress Salad with a Multi-Seed Dukkah

I recently revisited one of my favorite dessert recipes on this blog, the Sweet Dukkah Cigars. I enjoyed them so much, that I was inspired to make a savory dukkah to have for sprinkling on various salads and soups for the weeks to come. Traditionally, dukkah is an Egyptian spice, herb and nut mix, served as a dip for bread. Ours is packed with nuts (almonds and pistachios), seeds (sesame, chia, pumpkin), and invigorating spices (cardamom, cumin, coriander), and it can serve as the perfect finishing touch for a variety of dishes.

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Homage to summer’s sumptuousness

Let us take a moment to savor the sumptuousness of the summer harvest! And to select a few glorious things to do with it. My dear friend and neighbor Julie Burford and I already have our tried and true traditions and are happy to share. We’ve got you covered. (You may remember Julie from The soul of soup: cooking with my Soup Sister.)

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Avocado Soft Serve

I often buy those nets of not-yet-ripe, organic avocados to have them ripen later in the week. What ends up happening more often than not is that they all get ripe at the same time, and I can’t use them up fast enough. My solution is to mash up the avocados with some lime juice, then freeze the mash in ice cube trays to use in smoothies, quick avocado pudding and this soft serve, which we are completely obsessed with.

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Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Are you riding the Transition Train? If so, welcome aboard! It seems as though nearly everyone I know is moving, ending a relationship, leaving a job, or embarking on a new venture. Change can be scary, overwhelming, frustrating, exhausting, and even paralyzing. But, it can also be exciting, reinvigorating, and inspiring.

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Cool as a cucumber!

My friends, cucumbers have changed! When I was growing up, cucumbers were fat and stubby with waxy skins and big, blah seeds. They were relegated to three uses: a garnish on the plate, sliced in a salad, or finely sliced in little tea sandwiches with butter on white bread. Honestly not a major player, nothing spectacular. The texture was unexciting, the seeds were annoying, the skin was bitter. Meh.

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Foods to take when you travel

Traveling this summer? When it comes to food, I suggest you be prepared! 

My dear friend and her husband came to visit us in California last month. She was 26 weeks pregnant and traveling from the east coast, a LONG travel day. She had planned ahead and ordered a special meal for the plane… which turned out to be disgusting, virtually inedible. Oh, dear! She asked the flight attendant if she could rustle her up a cheese plate. To which the attendant flatly said, no. We don’t have any extras. My friend said, I’m a pregnant woman! Get me a cheese plate!!!  You do not want to mess with a hungry pregnant woman!!!!  Startled, the flight attendant rummaged through the food cabinet, and wouldn’t you know, she found one. 

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Watermelon Panzanella

Hey friends, this is Masha checking in with my (now annual) Woodstock, NY trip photos and a really good watermelon panzanella recipe that we cooked while there. My boyfriend and I went to Woodstock for the first time last summer and were completely enamored by its lush nature, chill swimming spots, and friendly small town vibe. We couldn’t wait to repeat the experience this year, and ended up staying at the same cottage in the woods for a weekend, which is perfect as far as we’re concerned. For our Saturday night dinner, we repeated the routine of shopping at Kingston Farmer’s Market in the morning and cooking dinner with all the bounty we found there at night. We made grilled pizzas and watermelon panzanella, and enjoyed the sweetest local blueberries together with Fruition chocolate for dessert.


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Superfood Tie Dye Pops

Paloma’s been taking an active interest in cooking and working on fun food projects with me in the kitchen. This newfound fascination may have something to do with the fact that she’s on summer break and cannot stand being at home with nothing to do for more than a few hours at a time. Instead, she’ll wake up with wild ideas about what she’d like to cook that day. I try to carve out time for those little projects whenever possible, since I obviously support this type of hobby :) In all seriousness though, cooking with kids creates such a great awareness about the importance and power of ingredients, and teaches them all about our connection to food and nourishment. So we’ll cook colorful things like berry-filled ravioli with a green, spirulina-dyed dough and our raw chocolate with a ton of different flavorings, and the kid’s always happy to partake in the fruits of her labor.

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Plant-Based Summer Meal Plan, Part 2

Here comes Part 2 of our Plant-Based Summer meal plan, which we created in hopes of helping some of you get more plants into your life on a day-to-day basis. We aimed for efficiency, but also tried to come up with recipes that are inspired and delicious. Part 2 focuses on dinner and dessert only. There are tacos and fajitas, as well as a juicy fruit crisp. To see the breakfast and lunch recipes, as well as the grocery shopping list for the entire meal plan, head to Part 1.If you use this meal plan, we would appreciate your feedback a whole lot. Tell us which parts were useful and where we could improve. These meal plans are a ton of fun to come up with, but they are also a ton of work, so we want to make sure that we are putting our energy into something that’s practical to you. Providing that everything goes well, we’ll come out with the next meal plan in the fall. Until then, we are back to our regular schedule of two recipe posts a week :)

Menu

(see Part 1 for breakfast and lunch recipes)

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Plant-Based Summer Meal Plan, Part 1

A few months ago, we asked if you would be interested in seeing semi-regular, seasonal meal plans here and heard a resounding yes. We love coming up with whimsical and creative, plant-based recipes to share here, but we also want this site to be a friendly space for busy people looking to eat more plants. You know, for those of you who might not have the time or brain space for making, say, an experimental aquafaba meringue, like we do. Meal planning is a great practice for saving money on groceries (and impulse takeout orders!), eating homemade meals (which inevitably equal healthier meals), and minimizing those situations of staring blankly into your refrigerator, wondering what to eat for dinner. Do I plan my meals? Sometimes. Ironically, I think that if cooking wasn’t my job, I would plan our family meals much more. But because I’m in the business of dreaming up recipes for this blog and for other publications, I often end up with random, non-coordinated dishes in my fridge, which then become our breakfast, lunch and dinner.


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Hibiscus Orange Blossom Turkish Delight

Turkish delight is one of those old-school sweets that was always around during my childhood in the Soviet Union, which is surprising because treats were scarce and mainly homemade. There was a tiny store a short walk away from our home, where they carried neat, white paper boxes, lined with tissue and filled with delicate pink, sugar-dusted Turkish Delight squares. We called the treat rahat lokum (just another commonly used name for Turkish Delight). I spent my childhood convinced that it was fairy food, and cherished every pleasantly jelly-like, aromatic bite from the magical paper box.


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Creamy, Garlicky Fettuccine with Roasted Green Vegetables

Here’s a true weeknight dinner scenario. I found some leftover raw broccoli and green beans while cleaning out the fridge the other day, and decided to roast them up to extend their shelf life and work them into salads and bowls throughout the week. I love how roasting transforms both of those vegetables from something quite boring to savory and special. The very next day, they made it into this very easy, creamy green pasta that I spontaneously threw together. It exceeded my expectations and got my eight year old devouring both green beans and broccoli, which is a huge triumph in my book. She was even impressed enough to suggest that I share the recipe on the blog, so here I am :)Paloma is a pretty good eater as far as kids her age go. She eats most leafy salads, loves to munch on raw carrots and apples, and could easily devour a certain teff polenta of mine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When it comes to things like broccoli and green beans (and mushrooms!) though, she is your typical, picky eight year old. If anything of the sort makes it onto her plate, she begins the meal with diplomatic negotiations about how she will eat this, but not that, and what sort of dessert she will be getting as a reward. We do have a rule that she has to try everything before refusing it, which is what got her with this pasta.In this recipe, the noodles are cooked in a creamy mixture of coconut milk and veggie broth, and jazzed up with some garlic and miso, while the caramelized, roasted vegetables get mixed in and slathered in all that creamy goodness as well. This preparation makes the otherwise tame green veggies into something irresistible, as proven by my kid’s enthusiasm. It’s also just a really great, easily customizable weeknight recipe. The roasted green beans and broccoli can be replaced by any other roasted vegetables, and you can play around with the addition of other types of greens, herbs and spices. I hope you’ll give this one a try :)Click HERE for CREAMY, GARLICKY FETTUCCINE WITH ROASTED VEGETABLES RECIPE

Glazed Tofu with Limey Cucumber Noodles and Mango

We’ve got a zinger of a hot weather dish for you today. Have you ever tried cucumber noodles in favor of the more common spiralized zucchini? I’m obsessed. They are the perfect, cooling and hydrating food, especially when dressed with plenty of lime juice, herbs and a kiss of spice. They’re great with tropical fruit, creamy avocado, and a sprinkling of toasted seeds, as well as tofu for more substance and a savory element. 

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Summery White Bean ‘Tuna’ Sandwich

Everything tastes better on the beach. The sun and saltwater create a special kind of exhaustion that will make even the blandest piece of food taste mind-blowing. When I was a kid, we were usually handed fresh peaches after a long, tiring swim. The peach juice would inevitably end up all over our faces and running down our arms, but no one cared because the way they tasted made the whole world go quiet. Those same peaches never seemed quite as delicious at home, and one year I even made a point of only eating them when at the seaside. Today’s sandwich can be eaten anywhere and anytime, but it will also make for one very special beach snack.


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